With a new president generating a lot of attention, news viewing rose 6% in 2017, according to an analysis of Nielsen figures by analyst Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research Group.
Sports viewing was down 12% in a non-Olympic year. Removing the Olympics from the equation, sports viewing was still down 6%, Wieser said in a report Wednesday.
News and sports are key categories for TV, accounting for about 23% of all viewing, based on live plus same day metrics. Those two categories are mostly viewed live, as opposed to entertainment programming, which is increasingly viewed on a delayed basis or on demand.
“News is important for media owners because of the absolute scale of the genre, its potential for profitability, the political influence that follows from these divisions and because of the significant growth they have recorded in recent periods,” Wieser said.
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In the news segment, Weiser says that Comcast’s MSNBC was the biggest beneficiary of the surge in news viewing. MSNBC jumped 49%, Fox news gained 8% and CNN rose 4%.
Viewing for the three big cable news networks was up 15%.
The big three broadcast networks’ news programming was down 7%.
Among individual shows, ABC’s Good Morning America was most popular, but was down 12% year over year. The second most popular news show was Fox News’ Fox & Friends, which was up 25%.
“In contrast to news, sports has struggled generally, although the genre still remains an important source of viewing of traditional TV. In aggregate, it represents an outsized source of costs, revenues and strategic leverage between networks and distributors,” Wieser said.
Disney networks, including ESPN, accounted for 33% of sports viewing, but viewing was down 8% despite a 1% increase in programming hours.
NBCU properties accounted for 16% of viewing and were down 39% because of the absence of Olympic programming. Viewing was down 11% on average in non-Olympic weeks on NBCU networks.
Fox-owned network has a 21% share of sports viewing and average viewership was up 13%, thanks in part to the Super Bowl.
Football accounted for 42% of sports viewing, with NFL programming generating 27% of total consumption. NFL viewing was down 8% despite 9% more programming hours.
College football programming accounted for 12% of consumption and was flat year to year.
Basketball accounted of sports consumption during non-Olympic weeks, with a 1% decline in viewing despite 2% more programming hours. Baseball accounted for 8% of viewing, with total viewing up 4%.
Viewing of sports commentary programming was down 11% year over year.
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